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My thoughts re: the island storyline. Folks wanted more explanation? Really? After it was revealed to be a glow cave?

Well, sure. Of course the glow cave is a lame idea, but yeah, if they're going to go there they better offer some real explanation. But the whole sixth season was the problem here, not just the finale. The sixth season's explanations were so lazy, dull, and inconsistent that when we got to the end, of course the explanation was no longer exciting. But it should have been. By three-fourths of the way through the season, we should have had a strong idea of what everything was on the island--and it shouldn't have been tied to some lame-brained, uninspiring glow cave--and more importantly, why it was on the island, so that we knew the stakes, leading us into a suspenseful, character-centered climax that doesn't have to deal with the "mysteries."

Nevermind that I have a strong resistance to the "purgatory" we-all-walk-off-into-heaven nonsense that they gave us. I don't care if it does take the characters full circle, it's very sappy, and it really doesn't have much to do with the show. It's a cheat. It's too easy a finale. This kind of finale could have ended countless other shows. There's nothing particularly specific-to-LOST about it, and that's the problem. Is the important thing about LOST really that these folks were all good friends? Bah.

Edited by Ryan H.

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My point is that after the glow cave, I no longer cared for any explanation the writers could possibly offer up. It would only heap lameness upon lameness. The purgatory thing, while feeling like an arbitrary tack-on, has to be appreciated as a metaphor more than anything else. A metaphor for the "live together, die alone" mantra, and that life involves a fundamentally spiritual component that is necessary for truly being found.

However, Ryan, you hit the nail on the head for season 6. What strikes me as the root cause? The choice to invent a wholly unique myth instead of tapping into an existing mythology with greater resonance to our shared culture.

Oh, I recall reading long ago that the producers/writers knew exactly what their final image was going to be--Jack's eye, as it turns out. So, whatever drove this series, the need to get Jack dying in the bamboo field was probably a key component of it.

Loved the shot, the symmetry, the sacrifice--just wasn't keen on the route taken to get there this season.

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It is a good point, Buck. And the whole "island plug" thing demonstrated the writers inability or unwillingness to take their own creation that seriously. But surely there could have been a less mind-numbing way to end the series. The great shot at the end with Jack hinted at such a conclusion.

That shot in itself had everything the writers claim the show was all about. Depth of character, narrative arc, reference to past events and symbols. I found that all really poetic, credible, and creative. It was an extremely satisfying moment, and I wish they would have capitalized on it by treating other characters with the same verve.


"...the vivid crossing of borders between film and theology may save the film from the banality of cinema and festival business, and it may also save the church from the deep sleep of the habitual and the always known."

(Hans Werner Dannowski)

Filmwell | Twitter

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How can we determine if this is the longest running A&F thread or not?


"...the vivid crossing of borders between film and theology may save the film from the banality of cinema and festival business, and it may also save the church from the deep sleep of the habitual and the always known."

(Hans Werner Dannowski)

Filmwell | Twitter

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Were the cheesy glow cave and the tumbling Styrofoam boulders a deliberate homage to Sid and Marty Kroft? Because all I could think about was the original Land of the Lost series. The only thing missing was Chakka running out of the forest and a couple of lumbering Sleestack.


"The things we enjoy are channels through which the divine glory strikes us, and those who love and delight in any good thing may yet learn to love God." --Gilbert Meilaender

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Nevermind that I have a strong resistance to the "purgatory" we-all-walk-off-into-heaven nonsense that they gave us. I don't care if it does take the characters full circle, it's very sappy, and it really doesn't have much to do with the show. It's a cheat. It's too easy a finale. This kind of finale could have ended countless other shows. There's nothing particularly specific-to-LOST about it, and that's the problem. Is the important thing about LOST really that these folks were all good friends? Bah.

What, a show where they would end episodes on some pop tune over a montage of people walking the beach or looking longingly into each others eyes or friends trading smiles while passing on the beach... or when a major character died gave us emotional queue music and a montage of the charactes life on the island...is getting accused of being to sappy?

As a viewer, the mysteries of the island were exciting icing, but the meat of the show was the characters and their relationships...from day one. For me? something that put the mysteries above the relationships would be an absolutely unsatisfying end.

But for me, this was extremely satisfying. It left me wondering about things. It left me wanting more. But the sign of a good finale is... you feel good about it-yet want more. I am fine with chalking some unexplained things up to "that's how Jacob did it. And Jacob was a terrible protector." Example...what was with the "no babies born" thing? I figure it was one of Jacob's rules. If we look closely, all the Babies born on the island were not born to mothers who were Others. Jacob and Samuel (the MIB had a name in scripts)were born of someone who came to the island, and we don't know if any other babies were born after them, the village seemed to lack children. All other babies were born to non-Others. We have no definitive answer, but I am okay with that. It's not the thing that kept me coming back to the show. I have no real complaints, the two and a half hours flwe by, it all made sense and I didn't see the ending coming a mile a way, so it was a nice surprise. A happy ending worked for me, and thankfully the Island life was not undone and not revealed to have just been a dream. The finale closed the series on a high point for me. That's all I wanted.

Interestingly, the big complaint from non-Christian viewers? The obvious prominence of Christian imagery in the end. So, it all depends on perspective. Christians are annoyed by small statues of Bhudda and the like...everyone else sees the giant Jesus in front of the church and get a overly "Christ-y Heaven impression."


"You know...not EVERY story has to be interesting." -Gibby

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It is a good point, Buck. And the whole "island plug" thing demonstrated the writers inability or unwillingness to take their own creation that seriously. But surely there could have been a less mind-numbing way to end the series. The great shot at the end with Jack hinted at such a conclusion.

That's my biggest gripe with the finale, that the writers simply decided to dismiss several years' worth of myth and world-building and replace it with a cave and a plug in the ground.

As a viewer, the mysteries of the island were exciting icing, but the meat of the show was the characters and their relationships...from day one. For me? something that put the mysteries above the relationships would be an absolutely unsatisfying end.

Agreed, but the Island was just as much a character on the show as Jack, Locke, Kate, or Sawyer -- especially considering how much its "personality" (i.e., its quirks, abilities, and properties) were pushed on us via its mythology, particularly in the first couple of seasons. Was it as important a character as Jack or Locke? I wouldn't say that, but it was certainly more important than, say, Nikki and Paulo, Arzt, or Frogurt.

Interestingly, the big complaint from non-Christian viewers? The obvious prominence of Christian imagery in the end. So, it all depends on perspective. Christians are annoyed by small statues of Bhudda and the like...everyone else sees the giant Jesus in front of the church and get a overly "Christ-y Heaven impression."

Yeah, I found that rather interesting and ironic, too.


"I feel a nostalgia for an age yet to come..."
Opus, Twitter, Facebook

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As a viewer, the mysteries of the island were exciting icing, but the meat of the show was the characters and their relationships...from day one. For me? something that put the mysteries above the relationships would be an absolutely unsatisfying end.

For me, they were about equal, and I don't see why the show couldn't have delivered on both counts. Sure, the final episode alone couldn't have carried the burden, but had they resolved the major mysteries 3/4 of the way through the 6th season, then they would have been entirely able to focus on the characters, with the added benefit of clearly-defined stakes. The last episode is merely the end-cap on an extremely lackluster final season.

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This is tbe best review I've read. One of its points is that it's a little more complicated than simply purgatory.

"I am quietly judging you" - Magnolia

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This could be a semi-official explanation, written by a staffer at Bad Robot Productions:

Nik at Nite: An Explanation from Bad Robot?

If it's not official, then it's at least a darned good explanation of the relationship between the Dharma Initiative, Richard, Ben, and Jacob.


In case you were wondering, my name is spelled "Denes House," but it's pronounced "Throatwobbler Mangrove."

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Well, Lost left us with a few unanswered questions. So here's a humorous tribute to them all:

Unanswered Lost Questions

Whoa. That's even more questions than I remembered. I'm back to "What?!" Seriously, if the finale raises as much controversy as this, it's succeeding on some level(s), but certainly also revealing the weaknesses (and strengths) of the series as a whole.


There is this difference between the growth of some human beings and that of others: in the one case it is a continuous dying, in the other a continuous resurrection. (George MacDonald, The Princess and Curdie)

Isn't narrative structure enough of an ideology for art? (Greg Wright)

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This is tbe best review I've read. One of its points is that it's a little more complicated than simply purgatory.

The Bardo explanation is compelling, but I'm taken a bit out of my suspension of disbelief by it. Bear with me a little...remember in Star Trek 3 (full geek alert!), when Sarek visited Kirk, and the review of the security tape footage showed the actual camera angles from Star Trek 2? It was a cheat--they just recycled the creative footage instead of showing realistic security camera angles.

In Lost's purgabardo, what compelling reason do we have, except maybe those that died or fell in love on the Island, to beleive that our Losties out of all the years of their lives, chose to create a realm in which only they reunited with people from these past four years? Were there no other significant events the rest of their lives? No other friends? No family? I mean, Charlie's siblings? Claire's mom? That's what I think is indicative of more wish-fulfillment (not exact term but it works) for the audience rather than story-driven for the characters.

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Re: the Bardo/Tibetan Buddhism angle...At this point I think the post finale riddle-solving by fans and TV journalists is probably more clever than anything the Lost writers ever dreamed of.


"The things we enjoy are channels through which the divine glory strikes us, and those who love and delight in any good thing may yet learn to love God." --Gilbert Meilaender

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In Lost's purgabardo, what compelling reason do we have, except maybe those that died or fell in love on the Island, to beleive that our Losties out of all the years of their lives, chose to create a realm in which only they reunited with people from these past four years? Were there no other significant events the rest of their lives? No other friends? No family? I mean, Charlie's siblings? Claire's mom? That's what I think is indicative of more wish-fulfillment (not exact term but it works) for the audience rather than story-driven for the characters.

I found this odd as well. Am I really supposed to believe that the Island folks were more important to Desmond and Penny than their own son?


"I feel a nostalgia for an age yet to come..."
Opus, Twitter, Facebook

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I found this odd as well. Am I really supposed to believe that the Island folks were more important to Desmond and Penny than their own son?

I think part of the problem is that the finale embodies the wish-fulfillment of viewers, rather than the fulfillment of the wishes, desires, and heartfelt needs of the actual characters.

Any explanation of this world that these characters collectively created as a therapeutic form of closure needs to account for the fact that what we see in the end is the writer's prediction of what would be the most satisfying audience experience, rather than the most satisfying narrative experience.

A direct comparison would be the end of Tykwer's Heaven, which although abstract and disconnected is birthed organically in the film's central relationship. That doesn't happen here in Lost, which uses an alternative myth to permit a convenient context for closure, rather than generating closure through the series' own longstanding mythology. This makes it all basically group therapy for the audience. Quite the opposite of The Sopranos's final image.

Another comparison would be Lewis' purgatory, which while being a similar construct on many levels, serves to draw us further into mystery and wonder (and even existential danger), rather than this therapeutic closure in Lost. Lost uses its richest symbols poorly.

Edited by M. Leary

"...the vivid crossing of borders between film and theology may save the film from the banality of cinema and festival business, and it may also save the church from the deep sleep of the habitual and the always known."

(Hans Werner Dannowski)

Filmwell | Twitter

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In Lost's purgabardo, what compelling reason do we have, except maybe those that died or fell in love on the Island, to beleive that our Losties out of all the years of their lives, chose to create a realm in which only they reunited with people from these past four years? Were there no other significant events the rest of their lives? No other friends? No family? I mean, Charlie's siblings? Claire's mom? That's what I think is indicative of more wish-fulfillment (not exact term but it works) for the audience rather than story-driven for the characters.

I found this odd as well. Am I really supposed to believe that the Island folks were more important to Desmond and Penny than their own son?

From what I understood, since we were seeing it from Jacks perspective, these were the people that were most important to Jack. Now I'm just trying to think if something Christian Shepherd says contradicts that.


"I am quietly judging you" - Magnolia

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In Lost's purgabardo, what compelling reason do we have, except maybe those that died or fell in love on the Island, to beleive that our Losties out of all the years of their lives, chose to create a realm in which only they reunited with people from these past four years? Were there no other significant events the rest of their lives? No other friends? No family? I mean, Charlie's siblings? Claire's mom? That's what I think is indicative of more wish-fulfillment (not exact term but it works) for the audience rather than story-driven for the characters.

I found this odd as well. Am I really supposed to believe that the Island folks were more important to Desmond and Penny than their own son?

From what I understood, since we were seeing it from Jacks perspective, these were the people that were most important to Jack. Now I'm just trying to think if something Christian Shepherd says contradicts that.

Hmm, I didn't get that at all. To me, everything seemed to indicate that this was a communal experience brought about by what everyone wanted, or at least what everyone's souls wanted, even if they weren't aware of it.

Edited by opus

"I feel a nostalgia for an age yet to come..."
Opus, Twitter, Facebook

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Yeah, it has to be a community--what's the use of having anyone else "awaken" if it was all about Jack? Plus, contradicts the whole live together, die alone message.

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I just posted some thoughts on Lost and the finale, as well as my idea for what the storyline/explanation should've been. It's basically an elaboration on everything I've posted here, with some pretty pictures of the cast. (And I hope you don't mind Leary, but I quoted you.)


"I feel a nostalgia for an age yet to come..."
Opus, Twitter, Facebook

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Opus, good thoughts on the finale and the series as a whole. I don't agree with everything you wrote, but I still respect your opinion and the opinions of those that found the resolution lacking. I would like to address a few things you wrote though, starting with this:

Which is all fine and dandy, as far as giving the audience those aforementioned warm fuzzies, but here’s the rub: the “flash sideways” don’t mean anything in the larger context of the series. Lost has always employed a dual narrative structure within its episodes. Each episode has an “A” plotline, which usually takes place on the Island, and a “B” plotline, which was typically a flashback or flashfoward. The two plotlines were connected, informing and paralleling each other and providing viewers with deeper insights into a particular character and their past, their relationships, what brought them to the Island, etc. It got a little clichéd at times, but it was a pretty effective structure nevertheless.

Perhaps I am reading too much into the show - very possible - but the "flash sideways" has everything to do with the larger context of the series. As you stated, the series has always operated with a "dual narrative structure" with each narrative "informing and paralleling each other." The flash sideways served this purpose as well. The great thing about the flash sideways though, is that it accomplished much more than what the other flash forwards/backwards did. It reinforced what we had learned about these characters from the first episode. Jack's father issues. Locke's feeling of helplessness. Sayid's bleak view of himself. Kate's desire to be seen as innocent. Sawyer's hunt for the real Sawyer and his search for his lost childhood. Hurley's loneliness. All of these things were integral to the characters. The flash sideways hammered this ideas home, and it did so while still servicing an even greater purpose. The flash sideways was not just showing us what these characters had been dealing with for much of their lives, it also showed us the final resolution of all these issues. The characters had to learn to let go. What happened, happened. Personally, I found the flash sideways storyline thematically rich and important to the overall vision of the series.

Secondly, and this is just a minor thing that I don't have time to realy get into right now, you mention the following mysteries that the show evidently did not answer:

the true nature of the Island, the numbers, the Dharma Initiative, why nobody ever has to shave, the freaking polar bears.

I hope you are joking about these...you are joking...right? Anytime I see anyone mention the polar bears as something the show has not answered, my brain shuts off and I no longer care what that person has to say about the show. They answered the polar bear question in Season 3. But that just confirms my suspicion that no matter what answers they had chosen to give - if they had answered every single question the show ever raised - there would still be a group of viewers that feel the answers were not good enough or that they weren't really answers at all.


"The greatest meat of all. The meat of friendship and fatherhood."

The Blue Raft - Are you ready to ride?

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the true nature of the Island, the numbers, the Dharma Initiative, why nobody ever has to shave, the freaking polar bears.

I hope you are joking about these...you are joking...right? Anytime I see anyone mention the polar bears as something the show has not answered, my brain shuts off and I no longer care what that person has to say about the show. They answered the polar bear question in Season 3. But that just confirms my suspicion that no matter what answers they had chosen to give - if they had answered every single question the show ever raised - there would still be a group of viewers that feel the answers were not good enough or that they weren't really answers at all.

Yes, I was joking about the polar bears (and the shaving), primarily because they've always struck me as a good gauge of people's feelings for the show in general. Either you think that the idea of polar bears being experimented on at a tropical island -- and by extension, the rest of the show -- cool and mysterious, or just plain silly.

As for your other comments, I'll try to respond to them ASAP. Got to get back to work...

Edited by opus

"I feel a nostalgia for an age yet to come..."
Opus, Twitter, Facebook

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Chadwick Matlin:

The purgatory scenes are a symptom of what, in retrospect, was
Lost
's greatest flaw. It refused to follow its own advice and let dead be dead. In the early seasons,
Lost
prided itself on its willingness to kill off any character it wanted. This, we were told, was proof that on the island the stakes were high. But then
Lost
's writers fell in love with their characters, and people started wearing bulletproof vests, recovering from harpoons to the heart, and returning as Demon Spawn. By granting the characters' souls eternal life, in purgatory or elsewhere, the writers diminished our interest in their actual lives — the ones audiences spent six years watching.
Lost
's writers should have taken a lesson from their characters and learned to let go.

Will Wilkinson:

It is the sloppy promiscuity of our undiscerning sentimentality that allows us to project our feelings from one character across worlds to his or her non-identical counterpart. . . . Now, I don’t know about you, but I’d like to think I’m not such a pushover. I don’t want to marry a bundle of repeatable attributes. I say I’m in love with an individual, a solid substance and its singular quiddity. I could give f•••-all if her counterpart in some untouchable precinct of the multiverse wears an eyepatch, wins the Pulitzer Prize, or is torn limb from limb by cannibal dwarves. None are my beloved. The finale of
Lost
pretended to be about the ultimacy and redemptive power of love, or something like that, but it exemplified instead the incoherent ruinous mess of our needy scattershot attachments, our whorish readiness to be doped by the dull, warm, indeterminate golden light. Speak not to me of love,
Lost
, if you know not love.

And Alan Jacobs responds to them both:

I’m not a fan of large sweeping apocalyptic statements, but here’s one for you: the current fascination with possible worlds, an infinite number of alternative universes, is death to narrative. Death to narrative because our stories draw their power chiefly from the
limits
of our lives. If death is the mother of beauty, limit is the mother of story. I’m not sure why or how the makers of
Lost
got caught up in this — in the recent reboot of
Star Trek
it seems that J. J. Abrams glommed on to it because it offers infinite expansion of the franchise: one world in which Kirk and Spock are enemies, another in which they are best friends, several in which they die young, a few in which they live to a ripe old age. . . .

But whatever one’s reasons for embracing this model, it renders every
particular
story vacuous. Why weep when Lear enters, bearing the dead Cordelia in his arms, or when Juliet awakens from her drug-induced sleep to find Romeo dead? Much easier to turn our eyes to those alternate worlds in which Lear and Cordelia crush their enemies, and Romeo and Juliet unite the houses of Montague and Capulet, world without end, amen. Or, rather, world that goes on until we get bored again and decide we want a bloodier cosmos, just for a change.

Edited by Ryan H.

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did anyone see this articleby brent s. plate at religion dispatches? no spoilers as it's pre-finale.

not that i've seen lost. much (only 2 episodes - one in season one and one in season six). or the finale. and i probably will end up watching the series at some point. just not right now. after the letdown of battlestar galactica (and the plan was even more dissapointing) i'm not sure how much i want to get invested in another tv series, even a "great" one...


I don't deny that there should be priests to remind men that they will one day die. I only say it is necessary to have another kind of priests, called poets, to remind men that they are not dead yet. - G. K. Chesterton

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The Man in Charge:

The season 6 DVD, out Aug. 24, offers an original, 12-minute vignette called ''The New Man in Charge,'' a tantalizing look at what Hurley (Jorge Garcia) and Ben (Michael Emerson, left) do as the new Island overseers.


It's the side effects that save us.
--The National, "Graceless"
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